Bridal Gown Embroidered with Peonies and Pheonixes. Korea, ca. 1975 replica of 18th century gown in the National Palace Museum, Seoul. Silk. Gift of Dr. Young Yang Chung, 2008 2008.12.1.
The Newark Museum is celebrating the silver anniversary of its Korean Galleries with a reinstallation of the gallery space. Korea, Land of the Diamond Mountains, which opened October 1, 2014, features 60 works that represent the Museum’s holdings of nearly 500 Korean objects, with additional objects on loan from private collections. The Museum has being collecting Korean art since its founding in 1909, displaying special exhibitions featuring Korean art throughout its history. In 1989, the Museum established a dedicated gallery space to feature Korean art — one of the earliest institutions in the West to do so. “At a time when most institutions are just beginning to create Korean art galleries, the Newark Museum remains ahead of the curve, already reaching this significant milestone of a silver anniversary, 25 years dedicated to continually exhibiting Korean art,” said Steven Kern, Director and CEO of the Newark Museum.
The reinstalled galleries showcase works ranging from 57 BCE to the present day. The exhibition has been arranged thematically to explore different elements of ritual life. From Buddhist to Confucian ritual objects. Shamanic as well as courtly works of art and also including works of contemporary art. Korea, Land of the Diamond Mountain features gilded wooden sculptures and brightly colored paintings that reveal a distinctly Korean Buddhist art. Ink wash paintings and ceramics and ritual furniture elevate dignified Confucian aesthetics. Polychrome figures of Korean officials riding tigers and horses guide souls in the afterlife, elements of shamanic practice. Also featured are jade-like celadon ceramics delicately inlaid with black and white slip representing the refined taste and skill of potters of the Goryeo Period (918-1392). Chalices formed from high-fired stoneware during the Gaya and Silla (57 BCE-935 CE) periods that reference Buddhist and earlier burial practices also are displayed.
“The Diamond Mountains (located in present-day North Korea) are among the most dramatic formations of granite mountain chains that comprise the Korean peninsula. The power and majesty of Korean art is a fascinating reflection of the dramatic land from which it hails,” said Katherine Anne Paul, Ph.D., Curator of the Arts of Asia. Contemporary ritual life in Korea features a thriving art scene. Many present-day Korean artists employ cutting-edge sensibilities and technologies reflecting and inspiring the power-house of today’s Korean art and industry. For example, mechanized sculptures by Uram Choe possess a lyrical and contemplative quality that is rare in 21st century art. Also on view Enriching the Korean Collection will be a special, temporary jewel-box exhibition featuring distinctive donations ranging from imperial gold and jade ceremonial adornment to modern prints and refined embroidery. This exhibition honors generous benefactors to the Korean Collection.